Saturday, November 13, 2004

Honey, did you neigh?

Published on 12-Apr-2001, at "" (a business and technology Israeli site). Translated from Hebrew by "".

Jet fighter pilots have a saying: It's the one you don't see that shoots you down. I think that maxim applies to many walks of life, including information technology.

My PC is my castle
People tend to take data security for granted, especially on their own PC. The average household isn't exactly Fort Knox, so who would try to hack them? What do they have of value that could be stolen from their home computer?

True enough. But before deciding whether and how much to invest in data security, you should know the facts.

On the one hand, installing security elements, physical or digital, makes operations more expensive and cumbersome, whether it's a lock on the door or a password that needs typing in. Everybody has to fine the right balance for himself.

Guess who's coming?
On the other hand, home users see only the interface, not the PC's operating procedures. The PC doesn't show them what it's doing under the surface. When a hacker decides to target your PC, the screen usually doesn't display a message saying "Your PC is now being controlled by Moshe. He is now deleting your resume from the hard disk." Unless the hacker is a raving egomaniac, of course.

At home, I use a 24-hour connection. I also use the personal firewall made by Zone Labs – Zone Alarm. This cute little freebie has a zone displaying all the connection attempts that the product prevented, whether from the outside to your computer, or from your computer to the outside -
such as by a Trojan horse.

A Trojan horse is a piece of software nefariously and secretly installed in your PC that can give a hacker remote control over your hapless machine.

Honey, who neighed?
During the average 24-hour period, there are about 50 attempts to connect to my PC. Most are attempts to connect to remote-control software ports or Trojan horses.

Ports are entrance or exit points associated with an Internet protocol address. To compare an IP address to a house, they're like doors into the house. But each IP address has about 65,000 doors.

So what, you shrug. In any case, in order to function, a PC needs software allowing external connections.

Sure. But do you know if you have a Trojan horse and what it's doing at night?

Say you don't have a Trojan horse. But think of your PC as your home on the Internet. Would you like it if people tried to break into your home 50 times a day? One maybe tampering with your door-handle, another prising at the mortar, a third taking a blowtorch to the bars protecting the kids' room? And what if one of these turkeys succeeds, are you counting on him turning moral and staying outside?

To delete, just follow 1,633 easy steps
Now how can a hacker install software on your PC, you ask.

Easy. Here are a few examples or benign, but annoying, commercial programs that install themselves on your PC, via your browser. (But they politely offer you a way to delete them after they've barged into your awareness without your permission).

The first is Hotbar, which decorates your browser interface. Hotbar is pretty aggressive. If you click on Click to Continue on its home page, the software will be installed immediately without your explicit request or even notification.

Another is Comet Cursor, sold to companies that want to garnish their websites. The moment you go into a site equipped with this software, it gets installed on your PC (again, no approval requested, or notice given). It creates graphic mouse cursors when using the browser.

But that's just aggressive marketing, not harm.

Have you visited any sex sites lately?
Who, me? You shudder.
Okay. I did you the favor of going there myself. Somebody has to do the dirty work.

Analysis of the divisions and links in sex sites reveals that many offer exe files. Only their makers and the sweet Lord know what these exe files do when you click on the link and set them off (sometimes it's a default file activated when you enter the site, you don't actually have to click on anything to run the file).

I haven't even gotten to the horror stories regarding Java and ActiveX scenarios, or viruses appended to emails.

Understand this: The moment you link up to Internet, your PC is part of the network. If you don't build a fence, your computer is the public domain.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Web

Published on 01-Apr-2001, at "" (a business and technology Israeli site). Translated from Hebrew by "".

You know those "advanced" theatre spectacles where the actors leave the stage and mingle with the audience? They are considered experimental, because they smash the glass wall distancing the players from the spectators, transforming the audience into a contributor. Art, considered
to be a higher form that only the most talented can create, embraces its watchers.

Art doesn't have much in common with journalism, but the element of distance is one common denominator. Journalism creates content - news items and op-eds - which the "audience" sits back and reads. There is no real dialog. Letters to the editor are a window for chosen, edited views
of readers. Until the advent of Internet, that is: The Web has given the broad audience a way to participate in the journalistic medium for the first time.

The first phase is the talk-back, where readers can respond freely to items appearing on the news website (with minimal censorship in extreme cases). Moreover, e-letters from readers are saved in the archive as part of the original piece.

The readers have no commitments. They don't have to be fair or nice or helpful. They don't have to provide their real names but can hide behind symbols while freely slinging virtual mud with howls of glee.

What I don't get is the repeat visitors, who return to the scene of their crime to unsheathe their pen again. If you didn't like it the first time, why did you come back?

Well, I could think of a few reasons:

Sirs, I say @&*()&)(!!!!

1. Some readers think they can improve the quality of content on the site by imposing pressure on the writer/editor.

Well, there is any number of opinions out there, but there's a difference between enviously penning venom and offering constructive criticism.

Use of vulgar, violent language neither induces the writer to mend his ways or to consider the content of the critique seriously. Moreover, as the responses are saved in the archive together with the source article, a hate-letter besmirches the very site the reader is trying to improve.

Such users have to understand and accept their indirect responsibility for the quality of the site. Constructive criticism complete with sources is the way to achieve influence over the writer and editor.

What is man after all?
2. People with vested interests have been known to praise or curse, as relevant. Naturally, they will take all possible precautions to avoid exposing their real identity. Revelation would expose their cynical manipulation of the public dais. But after all, what is man but the sum of his interests?

Can I pour my mental junk here?
3. Then there are anonymous readers unable to strangle the site's creators, who releasing their frustrations against the inert site. People are more restrained when their identity is known. Anonymity is protection, a chance to behave irresponsibly and without rein. Internet created the
ultimate place for people to put on masks, put off their shackles of propriety and let go their passions.

Unfortunately, said passions usually include a lot of negative emotion that couldn't drain off otherwise. Now their venting can be done through an alternative personality not associated with their real selves. How convenient.

I have no message for these people, except to recommend that they consult a therapist, although it will cost them more than logging on and taking off into cyberspace.

Some day, maybe a way will be found to give surfers a benefit for writing a talk-back using their real names, to encourage more self-possessed debate.

I do not write on behalf of I write out of a sense of pain at the improper use certain readers made of the talk-back option. I hope that at least some of the readers will agree and change their attitude. You have the opportunity to make a difference for the first time. The way you use this opportunity will share the cultural environment in which you live, for better or worse.

Mutated freebies

Published on 28-Mar-2001, at "" (a business and technology Israeli site). Translated from Hebrew by "".

With the wave over and dotaholics finally drying out, it's time for the hi-tech world to beat its breast and confess its sin. The sin is no other than the freebie.

Freebies are dying, they say. But I say it isn't dying, it's morphing.

The days of projects burning up millions but never returning a dime are long gone. Over. Gargantuan cash-hemorrhaging freebies couldn't live forever, if only because at the end of the day stands a livid businessman, furious that his cash hasn't yielded some wonderful new technology.

The gratis-giants are dead. Long live the shrewd little hidden freebie.

A freebie can be any aspect of a business model, as long as it attracts customers while ensuring revenues that however vaguely stem from the free activity.

An illegal example would be to sell the personal information of web surfers.

A legitimate example would be to embed a sales site in a news site, the kind of thing now happening on the Israeli site Ynet. It added a link on its home page to a site selling Passover gifts, which directs surfers to a separate window designed much like the rest of the website, yet the links and the inner pages attest to the site's affiliation with the Netvision/Nana ISP. I'm assuming Ynet gets something out of the deal.

A growing realm of competition

A less familiar freebie is the home one, the personal one. Internet boosted sales potential for companies, but also expanded the competition space, and not just with other companies.

Every developer knows that somewhere in cyberspace someone, an individual or a group, is developing a comparable software product that will either be supplide for free, or will at least compete with his development. Be it a calculator or an entire operating system, like the VA Linux Systems (Nasdaq:LNUX) for example.

True, the other system is more often than not hardly as professional or as well thought-out as the original one. But it doesn't require the same resources - capital, real estate and personnel - making it cheaper, which gives it an edge over the real McCoy.

The same applies to content-oriented websites. Many professionals are establishing non-profit websites for their mere pleasure, to show off their academic skills or simply to share their knowledge with the world.

These sites are usually free, and they also take part in various banner campaigns. These sites don't often "count" as competition, but they certainly are one for the simple reason that they are more focused, and a treasure trove of information for the knowledge-seeking surfer.

These websites can adopt the micropayments system to help them achieve relative growth.

Micropayments, which are a system whereby users can easily and safely pay small amounts of money - say $1 - for a service is considered to be the future of small business on the Internet. Using micropayments technology, small websites will be able to make some money, while paying some small fee to a clearing center. When and if the business increases its revenues, it will be able to progress to a more advanced means of payment.

The underlying assumption is that finance companies will believe they can make extra profit from existing clearing systems that will handle the surge of requests for elfish amounts.

This is naturally the real question. The answer will determine the future of this entire model.

None other than IBM is currently in initial stages of applying a micropayments model. The technology was developed in the IBM lab in Haifa, a coastal city in northern Israel.

Why Internet advertising never made it

Advertisements appearing in newspapers, or on TV or radio, will reach thousands of
customers each time. On Internet, exposure is permanent (like a bulletin board) but traffic is not at all a certainty, not a massive one, anyway.
That's why prices if Internet ads are lower.

Unlike the tried and tested media, the Internet is decentralized. It's segmented to an unbelievable degree. It's that very variety advertisers have traditionally pined for, but now that they have it, they don't want it.

I'm afraid traditional advertisers don't have the desire, the tools or the awareness needed to create real vertical advertising.

They use the same team to create an ad for a car, then an ad for electronic components – without providing their team with the necessary knowledge of the professional jargon with which to advertise the specific product.

There aren't enough ad firms prepared to specialize in one specific field. Maybe it simply hasn't been financially feasible. Truly, not every field should or can pay for mass media advertising.

But there is an infinite number of websites now that specialize in their field. From organizations and companies to individuals that build websites as a hobby, and who could just as well have been pros.

The decentralization the web proffers will encourage professionals to open small offices, which will combine Internet advertising pros with professionals from various fields. These offices will gladly search and find the specialty sites as well as advertise in them, as long as they prove innovative and professional, no matter the size of the institution or the person that stand behind the site.

Freebies will not die as long as the need to draw the moths (surfers) to the flame (the sale) persists and people are ready to show off their skills to others.

The Internet has surely created a new economy, but no, it isn't one of cash burn without recompense. It is an economy which allows smaller institutions to hop onto the financial ride, bringing us closer to a cutting-edge market with more competition, more means of production, more products and yes, more than ever, a lot more freebies.

An alternative business plan

Published on 19-Mar-2001, at "" (a business and technology Israeli site). Translated from Hebrew by "".

To: The crisis investigation committee
From: Someone who had a go and was Nasdaqed to smithereens

Re: The real guilty party – the customer

What haven't we done for him?

We gave him cheap, even mobile personal computers.

We made them the size of his palm, the size of a cellular phone – all for his comfort.

We gave him Internet. Immediate data communication to anywhere in the world – for almost nothing. Sometimes for nothing.

We distributed free software, flooded him with junk mail, got him websites with noisy invasive banners.

We installed software without his knowledge and tracked his surfing and shopping habits.

We even sold the data he left in our website to different companies (at least he made us a buck).

And him? What does he do?

He doesn't buy as much as he said he would in the surveys.

He doesn't surf the Internet every day.

He steals hacked and cracked software from us (and passes it on to family and friends).

He doesn't buy a new computer every year.

He doesn't read the user manual, and then calls for technical support (which costs us a fortune!) and claims the software doesn't work.

He just doesn't know how to operate the product.

He comes home from work all worn out, and after being set upon by the kids the sonofabitch doesn't have the time to surf into our incredible website and buy a whole lot of stuff.

His fingers aren't small enough and his vision isn't keen enough to surf the web via a cellular phone.

What can I say? The client does not fit into our business model

He doesn't interface with our products at all:

He's analog and the product's digital.

You can't connect to him because he has no printer/communication/USB/Infrared socket.

He's lazy in studying the products he buys (and is certain that they have to study him!), and so is incredulous at his inability to achieve extra sensory understanding of how to immediately operate the products).

He hasn't got enough free money to increase our profits.

He doesn't think what we are doing is important (or important enough to spend money on).

He got used to a free lunch.

He's mentally challenged – he has yet to set the clock on his VCR (on purpose, because if the clock is set he'll have to move on to the next, much more difficult phase of recording at a later date.)
He's afraid of changes, innovations and inventions.

He becomes emotionally attached to products he already knows.

He prefers to communicate with family and friends to using our product.

Selling to people isn't worth it

We move too fast for him. By the time he's mentally capable of accepting the product, we will have spent all our cash (presuming we don't get bought out first).

Next time, we may want to conduct a preliminary poll – just to make sure the client has a real need for our product, and how much he's willing to pay for it.
Maybe we need to change our whole concept of commerce.
Selling to people isn't worth it.

We should either sell from computer to computer, or else we computerize our human clients.

Yes… I like that. First, we install fast digital socket, thus ensuring there's someone to talk to. Then we install a processor and a little memory, not to mention suitable purchasing software.

We can make them feel they are buying of their own free will, including spontaneous acquisitions, but in reality, we control the entire process.

We'll make sure they buy a lot, but also that they work a lot – to have the money to buy from us. We'll ask their employers to send their paychecks directly to us.

Each time we come out with a new version, we could upgrade them, technically support them, we'll get the wear and tear on them to be recognized for tax purposes.

When the consumer's life run out – they won't die.
Snippets of their lives will run on the screen in an endless loop – and the red writing will blink in big letters that read:

Game Over – Insert Coin.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Published on 13-Feb-2001, at "" (a business and technology Israeli site). Translated from Hebrew by "".

A year ago, I signed up with "Internet Gold" to get Internet service.

One day daily emails began to arrive, containing advertisements, special deals, discounts and sundry annoyances, sponsored by my Internet service provider. The email did not explain how to make itself disappear.

I called customer service and asked them to make it go away. They informed me that I could not be removed from their list of addressees, it’s part of the subscription. Technically impossible.

Lacking the willpower to argue, I canceled my account with Internet Gold and moved to Surfree, which I learned its theme should be "come for the price, flee from the service". That didn’t last long.

Finally I found myself back with my first original ISP, good ol’ NetVision. I defrosted a frozen subscription and settled down to surf.

Deja vu
One day, emails began to arrive. Every day. From a sender called, a play on the Hebrew words for "update" and "Net".
I didn’t remember asking for daily missives from The daily email contained a few lines, not including a way to unsubscribe, and an HTML file. The first thing that sprung to mind was that it was a virus, but tests showed that not to be the case.

I opened the file and discovered that it collated content from the Internet, including ads. Nor did this file explain how to get rid of it.
Reading the content showed it to be a collection of news and gossip, new and used. Nothing that hadn’t been done before. I decided to ignore the whole thing and ran a filter to automatically delete the daily email.

But it didn’t stop and it got on my nerves. I decided to track down the source and strangle it.

The HTML file contained a link to You want it? Here. Turned out that the
site belonged to People and Computers, a group with vast experience in being a pain. Their site didn’t offer a way to stop the emails. It offered only a telephone number to subscribe. (What kind of moron would want to terminate a service as wonderful and indispensable as that anyway.)

I called and asked them to stop sending me emails. I gave them my email address, only to learn that I was not registered with them. Then the germ of an idea arose over there. "Could you be getting it through NetVision?" the customer servicer asked. I mumbled something. "They’ve got this special service package. Ask their customer service department," advised.

Some things you can count on

On Thursday, February 1, 2001, going by the Gregorian calendar, I somehow got my shaking hands and blood pressure under control and dialed good ol’ NetVision.

"@&*(#&*!!!" I asked.

"All new customers automatically receive this service," drawled the customer serviceperson. "You shoulda read the contract."

"But I’m not a new customer, I’m an old defrosted one," I protested with all the calmness of Krakatoa before the eruption.

"That’s really interesting. This is how it works. The system may think you’re a new subscriber so it’s mailing you. You know that only the first month is free, then it costs you?" advised the customer serviceperson.

Sure. "Got it. I want you to delete me immediately from the distribution list." The tectonic plates began to crawl over the compressed, boiling lava.

"No problemo," reassured the customer serviceperson. I gave over my details and sat back to simmer down.

A week passed, throughout which the email bearing my favorite news&gossip arrived day in and day out like Swiss clockwork. I waited for and NetVision to move their creaking cogs in their massive computers. A week later I called NetVision’s customer service department again and acidly but courteously demanded instant removal from their distribution list.

Some sweet thing at the NetVision CR department apologized and said it wasn’t only up to NetVision. They had to transfer the request to
Read: NetVision is handing over the names and details of its subscribers to a third party, probably for money. Interesting, isn’t it?

Just try to get netiquette services
I waited another day. The flood did not abate. I called again and asked to speak with a company spokesperson. But I was told that I could only speak with customer service, or with customer relations (the last bastion before the subscriber abandons ship). I demanded the manager, who called me back very late indeed.

Sarit the manager apologized, repeated what her underling had said, and promised to handle my problem personally.

I asked Sarit why NetVision, an ISP, forces its clients to receive spam as an integral part of its service, specified in its contract (does anybody gets the contract papers? How many incur charges after the first month without realizing a thing?) Clearly the service is not an essential component of Internet connection.

"Customers demand this service and the company has to meet customer and market demands," Sarit answered without a second’s hesitation.

I was speechless. Clearly I had never grasped the existential narrative of an "Internet service provider".

"You ever heard of netiquette?" I asked, when I had recovered my breath.

"Sorry," said Sarit, "I never heard of that service."

Curtains. Applause! The crowd goes insane! Encore! Encore!

Can’t just say No demanded that I obtain a response from NetVision’s spokeswoman. She said that all salespersons were directed to advise potential clients that is part of the registration process, and that my case was an unusual one because I had been removed from the freezer, not joined as a new subscriber. They’d look into it.

I don’t like to be an unusual case. I called the sales department. A kind lady named Yael answered. I asked about a 24-hour type connection. She said that within hours of paying by credit card, I could hook up and use email, and that I’d get the documents pertaining to my connection through good ol’ snail mail. I didn’t have to sign a thing. "That’s it?" I asked. Yes, she said.

To remove any shadow of doubt, to turn over every stone, that night I called again and a nice guy named Tal picked up. He repeated Yael’s lines word for word, but our relations intensified to the point of his taking down my credit details. was not mentioned. We parted friends.

I could only conclude that NetVision’s salespeople are either totally undisciplined, or that NetVision doesn’t like giving its customers a chance to say No.

Back at the scene of the crime
I went back to the scene of the crime,’s site. Turns out they’re offering the same “special deal” with Internet Gold. Surprise!

As there’s clearly no cybergod anyway, it isn’t surprising that has the chutzpah to use the extension "net" as though it were an ISP itself.

When a real ISP sells its subscribers to an aggressive publisher for a few bucks, there’s no difference between the two. Using the extension "net" merely indicates’s contempt for customers.

ISPs have long since stopped confining themselves to providing connection to the Internet.
Providing connections has merely become a way to build up a database of users, which they then sell.
So it goes, they have to make a living too.

Connection prices are diving and new rivals pop up like mushrooms.
Under such pressurized conditions, it isn’t surprising that the customer becomes perceived as mooing cash cows.
The only product they can’t sell is ,evidently, netiquette.

Silent death

Published on 14-Jan-2001, at "" (a business and technology Israeli site).
Translated from Hebrew by "".

You know that creepy feeling that something’s wrong? The question is whether we listen to our gut feeling, or repress it. Sometimes the sorry truth is that we pick what experience indicates to be a peach, but it turns out to be a lemon.

Lend an ear, dear reader. I have a sad and sorry tale to tell.

Our company decided to buy a dial remote access server. Based on the stellar reputations of Intel and of its Bedford, Mass.-based subsidiary Shiva, now Intel Network Systems, we opted for one of their products. We had very high expectations of a product made by such an industry leader, under Intel’s wing no less.

We bought the product in early December 2000. While installing and learning to use it, several snags arose.

The first alarm bell: The product came packaged with two power cables. My gain? No. They were both adapted to the European power grid, not the Israeli one. Okay, I said, power cables are a dime a dozen. I scrabbled about and found one. Problem overcome.

The second alarm bell: The installation CD was not a complete product guide. It was a few hastily-assembled files and a short explanation for beginners, no more. Aha, a challenge. Okay, I said, we have experience. We’ll learn as we go along. Problem overcome.

The third alarm bell: The product management software installed from the CD couldn’t find the product on the network in order to attribute it with preliminary definitions (mainly, IP address). Nothing I did worked. Lacking alternatives, I dived into the support site and found a program that had not been provided on the CD, but could be downloaded from the site. So I downloaded it. It did the job, too, enabling me to define the device. Okay, I said, they forgot to copy it onto the CD. Problem overcome.

But I was irked. At this stage, I rang the distributor’s product manager and complained. She was sympathetic, said it was good I had told her, and promised to look into the matter.

The fourth alarm bell: I contentedly went back to work and noticed that the software downloaded from the site enabled me to set more advanced definitions for the product. I did so and began to try out the product.

Situations supposed to arise using the advanced definitions did not arise. I went back to the definitions and noticed they were gone. After going back and forth a few times, I tried to return to the original software on the CD. Abracadabra! Changes effected using this software were retained and ran the product properly.

When a manufacturer provides two distinct software programs designed to change the same definitions of the same product, it’s asking for trouble. Indeed, trouble arose.

But okay, we overcame.

The fifth (and final) alarm bell:
I installed the client dialing software in a test computer and unleashed it to track down the product. Nada.

I tried everything, really I did. Nothing doing. Back at the support site, after laborious searching, I found that one of the security definitions has to be “open” for the client software to find the product. I, fool that I am, had automatically locked it. Changing the definition to open solved that one.

But when I went to the home page of the supplier’s site, I was shocked by a headline in bright red: Important Announcement. The text read: “Effective January 4, 2001, Intel announced the discontinuation of all dial remote access products”. Intel is continuing only with virtual private networks.

They killed the product I had just bought.

Not okay, I said. Don’t think I can overcome.

Always the last to know: The Client
I made a panicky phone call to the product manager. “Howzit?” she chirped.

“Not good,” I gibbered through my tears.

“What’s wrong?" she cooed.

“The word discontinued mean anything to you?” I asked.

“Ah yes, we’re in shock over here too,” she said, properly shocked.

I said I wanted to return the product and get our money back. That we didn’t want to get stuck with a product that wouldn’t have parts, upgrades or support. Especially given that the manufacturer knew perfectly well that the product was about to be discontinued but sold it anyway, without warning the buyer. We bought it only a month before it was killed, a fact we learned of by coincidence. Not nice.

She was sympathetic, said it was good I had told her, and promised to look into the matter.

The manufacturer refused to acknowledge parentage of the sorry mess. A sales rep at Intel Israel called. First he inquired whether I had handled the procurement properly (i.e. bought the product willingly and knowingly) and whether I was satisfied with my procedure. He tried every trick to prove that I knowingly and willingly shot myself in the foot. I cut him off politely and repeated what I’d told the product manager, augmented by a few choice adjectives about Intel.

Foxed, the Intel Israel rep promised to talk with the Intel product manager. A few days later, he wrote that Intel refused to take the product back. He sent the details of the global Intel product manager.

I emailed the global Intel product manager, who apparently never had been briefed by Intel Israel. He fired back a concise email that no conversation will taken place between us, that Intel wouldn’t take the product back and that we had to settle for the company's support policy.

Post mortem
Sure, a company can discontinue a product line whenever it wants. Cases like ours have happened before and will happen again, at perfectly “respectable” companies. Intel is not alone. But it shouldn’t happen at the expense of faithful customers.

When a product is launched, Marcom comes out slugging. PR, advertising, press announcements. But when a product is killed, nothing. Silence. The fatal injection is given in the dead of night, in the depths of the support department. No wake. The obit will be as laconic as possible.

Intel killed its remote access server too soon, I believe. Email was supposed to kill the fax. It didn’t. Sure, VPNs will become more popular. But there’s plenty of room and demand for RAS systems, mainly in the same dialing area, especially because of security issues. Even the first product manager I talked with said that if anything, demand is increasing (but one should be careful of relying on the veracity of a salesperson).

Shiva built its good name on RASs, the parent of the firewall and the VPN. It’s good in VPN too, but not the market pioneer or leader.

In my email to the global product manager, I proposed that the discontinuation process will be more gradual and prolonged, for the good of all. The company can say a year in advance that it’s discontinuing a product. During that year, it will sell the item at a discount. Instead of sudden death, a quiet slide into the void. It will also get rid of its inventory.

Clients who bought the thing should be able to get support and parts for a longer period of time. New buyers should be advised that they’re getting a discount because of the imminent discontinuation. End of season sort of thing.

By the way, the company’s site still sells the products that died on January 4, 2001.

Conclusions? Nothing of worth, sorry. Life is cruel. There’s no life after death in hi-tech. Big companies can behave like horse-traders when their cash-flow dwindles to a trickle. All that remains is for frustrated buyers to carry out their own brand of discontinuation, of the company's products.